Just a head’s up for those coming here off the back of the recent remake, this review includes some well-know spoilers.
Released: March 2019
Originally Released: January 1997
Developer: Square Enix
Original Developer: Square
Also Available For: Mobile, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4
It’s hard to talk about Sony’s PlayStation without talking about Final Fantasy VII. Traditionally released on Nintendo’s 8-bit and 16-bit titles prior to Square’s move to the PlayStation, Final Fantasy VII was released at a time when every recognisable videogame franchise worth a damn was making the jump from 2D to 3D.
For many, Final Fantasy VII was not only their first Final Fantasy videogame but also their first experience of a role-playing game (RPG). Lauded upon release, the game went on to not only win numerous awards but also to sell over ten million copies on the PlayStation alone. So influential was Final Fantasy VII that it inspired a whole host of additional spin-off media from Square Enix, including the fantastic computer-generated movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (Nomura, 2005) and the under-rated RPG/action shooter Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (Square Enix/Monolith Soft, 2006).
Ironically, my experiences of Final Fantasy VII were quite limited at the time; I was knee-deep in my Nintendo 64 phase and still playing Mega Drive titles when it released, so I’m pretty sure it passed me by completely at the time. I had dabbled in a few previous Final Fantasy titles, however, thanks to emulators but I didn’t really become aware of the series until Final Fantasy VIII (Square, 1999) and even watched Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children before I first played Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation 3. However, with Xbox One owners like myself unable to play the recently-released Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square Enix, 2020) thanks to Sony’s current strangehold on that title, I was fortunate enough to be gifted the Xbox One port of the PlayStation original which, thanks to the coronavirus lockdown, I was able to play through quite recently.
Okay…so…in a nutshell: The Shinra Electric Power Company has been harvesting Mako energy, destroying natural habitats, draining the Lifestream of the Planet, and generally making life miserable for the lower classes. Cloud Strife, a former member of SOLDIER, Shinra’s military branch, reluctantly joins forces with members of the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE in their efforts to oppose Shinara, only to find himself caught up in defending the fate of the Planet itself when Sephiroth, SOLDIER’s most lauded recruit, begins a mad plot to absorb the Lifestream and become a God.
Final Fantasy VII is a traditional, turn-based RPG that emphasises exploration, strategic combat, item and party management, and has a heavy prominence placed on its complex and dense narrative. Players primarily take control of Cloud and form a party of up to three members (each of whom you can re-name, if you want) to engage in random battles across the game’s extensive overworld and many dungeons and locales, encountering a variety of non-playable characters (NPCs), enemies, obstacles, and mini games along the way.
Players navigate numerous fantastically varied, pre-rendered environments in their quest; as you explore, you’ll find chests to open, items to pick up, buildings to enter, and innumerable numbers of NPCs to talk to. It’s through conversations with NPCs and your party members that you’ll learn more about Final Fantasy VII’s world, its dense lore, and the different cultures and societies that dwell within it. As a Final Fantasy title, you’ll easily sink over eighty hours of playtime into Final Fantasy VII, most of it watching cutscenes and engaging with the complex narrative.
The rest of the time, you’ll most likely be battling and levelling up. As you explore the overworld, you’ll walk over fields, through forests, explore caves, dungeons, high-tech facilities, and even journey to the centre of the Planet itself. When not in a town, every step you take puts you at risk of entering into a random battle against a number of enemies; when a random battle occurs, you can try to run if you wish but, if you turn and fight, you’ll be presented with a number of options.
Each character has strengths and weaknesses; some have higher hit points (HP) or magic points (MP); some can take more damage, or deal out more attack power, or are faster or slower. Having a diverse party is the first step towards winning battles, which take place using the game’s Active Time Battle (ATB) system. When a battle begins, the enemy and the player’s party exchange moves until the battle is ended in a constant cycle; take too long selecting your next move and you’ll leave yourself open to an attack. You can, however, alter this system in the game’s “Config” menu, which allows you to both increase the speed of in-game battles and reduce them to a more manageable, turn-based structure. Either way, when battling, you can choose to defend yourself to reduce incoming damage, select which enemy to target, or use an item to heal a character or otherwise turn the tide in your favourite.
When battling, once the “Time” meter is full, you can choose how to engage the enemy. If you choose to attack, your character will rush forwards and deliver an attack to deal damage. When hit with an opposing attack, your party’s “Limit” meter will fill; once full, you can perform a powerful Limit Break, which will deal greater damage to your opponents and sometimes provide beneficial aids to your party.
When using magic, keep in mind that some enemies will have their HP restored if you use elemental magic against them. Characters use magic when you assign them Materia, which is a kind of crystallised form of Mako energy; Materia allows characters to heal or revive each other, erect protective barriers, cast elemental spells (Fire, Thunder, etc), poison foes, turn them to frogs, and a whole slew of other benefits.
The most powerful and useful Materia you can acquire allows you to call upon the powers of a Summon to aid you in battle; these bestial creatures can deliver heavy damage to bosses and groups of enemies and even resurrect your fallen comrades, but Summons drain a lot of your MP to use and some of them can only be used once per battle unless you link their Materia to another Materia to allow consecutive use or added effects upon their summoning.
If all of your party is defeated in battle, the game is over and you must reload from your last save point; if you win, though, you’ll earn experience points (EXP). When you earn enough EXP, your characters will level up, increasing their stats and learning new, more powerful Limit Breaks. You also earn Ability Points (AP), which allow your Materia to level up as well and allow access to more powerful spells (Cure 2, Quake 3, etc); sometimes you’ll get items from victories as well and, of course, you’ll earn Gil.
Gil is the currency of Final Fantasy VII; with this, you can purchase items and weapons and pay to restore your HP and MP at the various inns located in the game’s many towns and cities. Each character can be equipped a weapon, an arm band, and an accessory; these have slots that allow them to use Materia, protect them from certain attacks (or types of attack), and raise their stats. To obtain the most powerful weapons and Materia, you’ll have to not only battle some of the game’s toughest enemies and bosses but you’ll also have to complete a number of mini games and side quests.
As you explore Final Fantasy VII, you’ll come across numerous side quests, mini games, and distractions from your main quest; there’s a side quest where Cloud most pose as a girl, for example, or a section where you must chase weird creatures through an ancient, maze-like city, defend a mountain from invading forces, snowboard down a mountain, and explore the depths of the ocean in a submarine. Visit the Gold Saucer and you’ll be provided with a wealth of mini games for you to waste your time on while the Planet looms moments from destruction. You can visit the arcade and throw basketballs into hoops, replay the somewhat-clunky motorcycle pursuit (wherein Cloud makes a dramatic escape, swiping at pursuers with his hefty Buster Sword), take on progressively difficult enemies one after another in the Battle Square in hopes of purchasing rare items and upgrades, or take a member of your party on a date.
Additionally, if you choose to acquire the game’s two extra characters, you’ll get sucked into their side stories and side quests, one of which sees you first forced to do battle without your Materia and, later, battle progressively-difficult enemies in a pagoda, while the other involves a tough boss battle and a lot of dialogue. After Sephiroth summons Meteor and the Planet edges closer and closer to destruction, you’ll travel the world without Cloud to acquire the Huge Materia; getting this involves a lot of mini games, like button mashing in perfect harmony to speed up and slow down a train, chasing down and destroying an enemy submarine, or strategically placing troops to defend a giant condor egg.
One of the game’s biggest side quests involves the capturing, breeding, and racing of Chocobos. These ostrich-like creatures can be found on the overworld when you have a Chocobo Lure Materia equipped and walk over their tracks but, unless your powerful enough to one-shot the enemies they are often accompanied by, you’ll need to shell out for some “greens” to distract them. Once you’ve caught a Chocobo, you can ride them around the overworld but, eventually, you’ll get the chance to buy up to six stables to keep your Chocobos in. You can then feed them to raise their stats and attributes and race them at the Gold Saucer; even when you allow the computer to race for you, though, this can be a time-consuming task as, to breed better, different-coloured Chocobos, you’ll need to win a lot of races and take part in a few battle sin the interim, all to breed the ultimate Chocobo, a Gold Chocobo, which can run over land, sea, and mountains to reach the game’s most powerful Materia. None of this is especially difficult but it is very time-consuming and I can’t say I was happy to have to do it all over again after doing it on the PlayStation 3 but, now that I’ve gotten a Gold Chocobo, I can rest easy in the knowledge that I won’t have to do that again.
Final Fantasy VII loves to throw a curveball at the player; just as you think you’ve mastered the game’s ATB system, you’ll be asked to press buttons at the right moment to perform a march or provide CPR. These little distractions and varieties in the gameplay can be fun when they’re optional but many of them are required to advance the plot, as well as netting you more EXP, more Gil, better items and Materia, and even a couple of extra party members. At times, they can feel like unnecessary padding as it seems like every time the team visits a town, you spend an hour or so running around doing some kind of arbitrary task that seems contradictory to the game’s otherwise ominous plot. Later in the game, such button-mashing sections are crucial to the game’s plot and failing them can cost you an Achievement or two or cause you to either miss certain rewards and Materia or have to earn them some other way through another side quest or at a high Gil cost.
Similarly, just when it seems like you’ve gotten a grip on the game’s quirky nature, the entire complexion changes when Sephiroth murders Aerith, forever removing her from your party and as a playable character, summons Meteor to destroy the Planet, and the kaiju-like WEAPON emerge from the ground and go on a rampage. After this point, Cloud leaves the party for a time and you’re forced to fly around in the Airship with different party members collecting the Huge Materia all while a massive glowing sphere hover sin the sky. Even the overworld theme changes at this point, becoming more ominous; different WEAPON wander around the map and must be battled and Cloud is forced to confront the truth about himself and his path before rallying the team to confront Sephiroth.
Characterisation is a large part of Final Fantasy VII’s narrative; each party member has a unique backstory and their own personality quirks and, as you progress, you’ll learn more about them and what makes them tick. Characters are surprisingly layered as well; Cloud has a reputation for being an edgy loner but he has some amusing moments, like when he’s forced to act in a play with Aerith (or Aeris, whatever you prefer) Gainsborough, or the way he shrugs dumbfounded whenever talking to Yuffie Kisaragi or Cait Sith. Barret Wallace, too, has a lot of layers to his character; he’s a passionate eco-warrior with a quick temper but also a doting father and carries a dark secret that the game forces him to confront, and this is true of each of the characters, in a way.
Final Fantasy VII’s ability to flesh out each of its characters really increases your emotional investment in the game’s plot; even Sephiroth, who kills without a thought and is more than happy to crack the Planet open on a whim, is a tragic figure affected by the machinations of Shinra. Which characters you engage the most with will undoubtedly affect how you arrange and organise your party, though the narrative is structured in such a way that you are forced to have each member of the team in your party at least once (with the obvious exception of the optional characters).
With all that said, Final Fantasy VII can be a stressful experience; like all Final Fantasy titles at that point, Final Fantasy VII is quite a slow, measured experience. Cutscenes can’t be skipped, meaning if you die after a lengthy section of dialogue you have to sit through it all over again; random battles can take place every couple of steps, which can be frustrating when you’re low on HP and/or MP (you can turn them off by pushing in the analogue sticks but then you won’t gain EXP or AP), and there’s no fast travel system. This last is especially annoying thanks to the game’s map; while it’s useful, it’s not very clear. Towns and areas of interest are marked by small dots rather than names and, if you want to travel there, you’ll have to do so manually; I have to say that, once the Highwind upgrades to rocket boosters, it would have been nice to implement a fast travel mechanic.
Similarly, as was the tradition at the time, you can only save the game at designated save spots or on the overworld, meaning that if you haven’t saved for a while and make a massive mistake, you’re in for a lot of backtracking. As a result, it’s wise to save often and consult one of the many comprehensive guides to be sure that you haven’t missed anything and are fully prepared for what’s ahead. I favour over-levelling my party so that I don’t have to worry too much about healing during a battle but, even then, you’ll encounter bosses and enemies that decimate your party in just a few hits.
Graphics and Sound:
As the franchise’s first foray into 3D, and being an early PlayStation title, Final Fantasy VII favours pre-rendered backgrounds, sprite work, and polygonal graphics, resulting in a game that, it could be argued, has a contradictory tone. On the one hand, you have these dank, desolate, steampunk-like industrial backgrounds or an apocalyptic calamity hanging overhead but, on the other, you have these super cute, chibi-style character models.
While Square went on to perfect the graphical presentation of the series in subsequent sequels, I actually really like the blocky, polygonal character models. Not only are they full of charm, appeal, and character, they are more than capable of conveying the character’s emotions (whether that is anger, stress, sadness, or confusion). Plus, it helps them to stand out against the game’s myriad of different environments; whether you’re stuck in a sandstorm, infiltrating a Mako Reactor, or exploring an ominous cave, you’ll always be able to spot Cloud and his cohorts.
Add to that the fact that the game has some impressive CG cutscenes and, quite often, segues seamlessly from the standard in-game environment to a CG cutscene, incorporating the block characters alongside these striking cinematics. You’ll also be treated to quite a few higher quality CG cutscenes that render the characters in a more visually appealing manner; from the game’s breathtaking introduction, to the awakening of WEAPON, to the tour around the Gold Saucer, Final Fantasy VII is always a visual treat thanks to its distinct visual style.
Without question, Final Fantasy VII features some of the best work from long-time series composer Nobuo Uematsu; this game features probably my favourite rendition of the traditional Final Fantasy theme and victory fanfare as well as the super catchy song that plays at the Gold Saucer (I could seriously listen to that all day, every day, and never get sick of it) and what has to be not only the best boss battle theme but also the greatest Final Fantasy theme of all time, “One-Winged Angel”. Even without that, though, that game’s orchestral soundtrack is extremely catchy and diverse, being epic and sombre when required and infusing each area with even more life and character.
Enemies and Bosses:
Final Fantasy VII’s world is filled with all manner of strange creatures; we’ve got weird little cacti, giant snakes, dragons, frogs, sentient masks, ghosts, bugs, horrible little lantern-carrying, hooded amphibians who are more than happy to shiv you to death, biomechanical monstrosities, toxic flytraps, laser-shooting fungi, and even sentient houses!
Every new area has new enemies to contend with and I swear they get as incomprehensible as the game’s plot at times. All of these weird, obscure creatures exist side-by-side with more human-looking foes; you’ll battle a slew of Shinra flunkies, mechanical creations, and their covert arm, the Turks. Each battle requires slightly different strategies; even though I prefer to simply plough ahead, dealing as much damage as possible, even I will concede that it’s sometimes better to battle smart and use an enemy’s weakness against them. When you fight Reno and Rude of the Turks, for example, Rude won’t attack Tifa Lockheart because, as a smart man, he is infatuated with her; therefore, it can make battles against them much easier to have her in your party. Other times, it may be best to equip items and accessories that nullify status ailments or absorb elemental attacks, keeping your party safe and healed when they’re being attacked.
You’ll also come up against some powerful mechs, often piloted or commanded by high-ranking Shinra officials. These mechanical monstrosities often have multiple parts to them, some which exclusively deal certain types of damage or cast certain spells. By the time you confront Shinra’s toughest mechs, you’ll most likely be well versed in casting Big Guard, Regen, and the likes of Comet and Ultima, which can vastly improve your odds in these battles as Final Fantasy VII’s biggest and baddest bosses often end up being a test of your endurance thanks to their high HP.
You’ll also battle some truly monstrous bosses as you progress through the game’s story; some of these are simply creatures that you have disturbed in your travels or unleashed upon you by Shinra but you’ll also have to do battle the Planet’s defenders, the gigantic WEAPON. The story directs you to oppose Diamond WEAPON as it marches against Midgar but, to battle Ultimate WEAPON, you need to chase it down on the world map and survive a number of encounters with it, causing it to flee until you’re finally able to keep it in one place. The effort is worth it to acquire Cloud’s most powerful weapon, though.
And then there’s the extraterrestrial calamity known as Jenova, whose cells are responsible for Sephiroth’s uncanny power and resulting madness. You’ll battle this creature in various different forms over the course of the game; mostly, it’ll be this mass of alien tentacles and amorphous lumps but you’ll also battled a mutated form of Shinra scientist Professor Hojo after he infuses himself with Jenova’s cells. Whatever its form, Jenova is a formidable foe that often requires you to attack its different, regenerating parts in specific ways.
This comes to a head when you make it through the Northern Cave and to the planet’s core, where you’ll battle Jenova∙SYNTHESIS; how you battle this boss, and which characters you have, will determine the strength of the subsequent boss, Bizarro-Sephiroth. This chrysalis-like shell can have HP in the 180-thousands and is often battled with two or three parties at once, making for an extremely challenging ordeal, especially as it heals itself quite regularly.
Once you best it, though, you’ll finally go one-on-one with Sephiroth, who by this point has used the Lifestream to transform into the God-like Safer∙Sephiroth, a multi-winged eyesore whose ultimate attack literally destroys the entire solar system! If you’ve over-levelled, acquired the ultimate weapons for your team, unlocked the most powerful Limit Breaks, and acquired the strongest Summons, this boss isn’t too much of a challenge though. When I battled Safer∙Sephiroth in this playthrough, I cast Regen and Wall so that my party’s health would constantly regenerate and incoming attack and magic damage would be reduced, cast DeBarrier on Safer∙Sephiroth to allow my attacks to hit at full force, and put him down with one use of Knights of the Round. In actuality, Safer∙Sephiroth’s health and difficulty increases depending on the average level of your party and how you fought the bosses immediately prior to him, so you may have more difficult against him depending on the choices you make, but, generally speaking, I had more trouble with Ultimecia’s final form in Final Fantasy VIII.
As if to reward you for all your hard work and the trials you have endured, Final Fantasy VII presents you with one final confrontation with Sephiroth. Thankfully, though, this is a battle you absolutely cannot lose and is more of a scripted event. Here, Cloud and Sephiroth go face-to-face within the Lifestream itself and, with a simple press of a button, you unleash Cloud’s ultimate Limit Break, the always-cool Omnislash, finally defeating Sephiroth once and for all with both ease and grace,
Power-Ups and Bonuses:
The only way to truly master Final Fantasy VII is to grind, grind, and grind some more. Winning battles gains that all-important EXP and AP, both of which are required to strengthen your characters and their magic. Some characters won’t even learn their best Limit Breaks unless you defeat a certain amount of enemies with them, all-but-forcing you to use characters like Aerith and Cait Sith if you want to fully power them up and unlock all of the game’s Achievements. The same is true for Materia; levelling it up not only allows access to more powerful magic, it also duplicates the Materia for others to use and leads you towards acquiring the all-powerful Master Materia, items which are essential to taking on the game’s optional bosses.
In nearly every town or city you visit, there will be a weapons shop; here, you can purchase new weapons, arm bands, and accessories for your characters. These can be pricey, though, necessitating a lot of grinding or exploration for extra Gil and it’s worth noting that, while you might get a significant buff by buying a new weapon, you can just as easily find a more powerful one in a chest shortly after spending your hard-earned Gil. To acquire a character’s ultimate weapon, you may be required to complete a side quest or specific task; to get Vincent’s, for example, you first need to acquire him by completing a side quest, then either get a hold of the submarine or breed a coloured Chocobo to access a hidden cave behind a waterfall, then read some dialogue, and then you need to win ten random battles before returning to the cave to acquire the Death Penalty…but, to get Cid Highwind’s, you simply talk to the right NPC three times in a row. Sure, this is quite late into the game and you have to first travel to and from space but it’s a lot simpler.
As mentioned, your Gold Chocobo will allow you to travel anywhere and acquire the most powerful Summon, Knights of the Round, but they’re not the only way to traverse Final Fantasy VII’s extensive overworld. You’ll acquire in a buggy, a little sea-based aeroplane, a submarine, and, eventually, upgrade to the comfort of Cid’s Airship, the Highwind; given how much of your time is spent travelling on foot, you’ll really appreciate the convenience of the Highwind allowing you to heal for free and travel at high speeds.
Furthermore, there are two optional characters you can acquire at various points throughout the game; the hyperactive ninja Yuffie will randomly ambush you in forests and only joins you after you defeat her and then pick specific dialogue options, while the stern and stoic Vincent is locked away in a Shinra mansion and can only be acquired by battling a particularly challenging mini boss. There are some benefits to taking the time to get these characters though; not only do you get an Achievement for each, but having Yuffie in your party later on allows you to acquire the Leviathan Materia and Vincent is one of the more useful characters thanks to his powerful Limit Breaks (he also looks awesome).
As if that wasn’t enough, there are also two optional superbosses: Emerald WEAPON at the bottom of the sea and Ruby WEAPON in a sandy region. To fight Emerald WEAPON, you need a special Materia to eliminate the time limit imposed by being underwater and, to fight Ruby WEAPON, you have to be out of your mind! Seriously, these two are no joke; Ruby WEAPON can blast one of your party out of the battle entirely and both deal massive damage while sporting tank-like HP. In all my attempts at battling them the only one I came close to dealing any real damage to was Emerald WEAPON and even then it wiped the floor with me. To best these two, you absolutely have to have top-tier party members, Materia, and Limit Breaks along with a lot of luck and a well-thought-out strategy.
Defeat Emerald WEAPON, and you’ll not only earn a whole bunch of EXP, AP, and Gil, you’ll also get the Earth Harp, which you can take a seemingly-innocuous NPC in the town of Kalm to earn three Master Materia: Master Summon, Master Command, and Master Magic. Not only does this net you an Achievement, it means that you have full access to every Summon, spell, and command in the game, which can not only massively overpower your party but also free up your weapon and armour’s Materia slots to add further buffs. If you visit this NPC prior to fighting Emerald WEAPON, you can trade him another item to earn the Underwater Materia, which can make the battle against Emerald WEAPON a bit easier by eliminating the threat of your party drowning. Defeat Ruby WEAPON, and you’ll get the Desert Rose, which Kalm’s generous NPC will trade you a Gold Chocobo for (though, in my experience, it’s far easier to breed your own Gold Chocobo).
As you might expect, Final Fantasy VII comes with a bunch of Achievements, most of which are tied to some of the game’s more difficult and time-consuming mechanics. There’s one for reaching Level 99, for example, one for acquiring the maximum amount of Gil, one for mastering every Limit Break, one for having Cloud’s drag disguise being more appealing than Aerith or the delectable Tifa, and one each for defeating Emerald and Ruby WEAPON.
It’s worth noting that some of the game’s weapons, accessories, and Achievements are dependant on you doing certain actions at various points in the game; you won’t be able to get the “See the Light” Achievement if Aerith is dead, for example, and you’ll have manipulate events early on if you want to take Barret on a date at the Gold Saucer. Similarly, if you don’t properly explore Nibelheim during a flashback, you can’t get Tifa’s last Limit Break. Another thing to note that this game sometimes struggles to register your Achievements; I had to beat the game three times and remove and re-upload my Xbox profile just to get the “A Feat of Meteoric Proportions” and “Wheel of Fortune” Achievements to register and there was a significant delay in the “The Slash to End All Slashes” and “Roundtable Destruction” Achievements popping, too. Apparently, this is a common issue with this game so I’d recommend saving frequently and making sure you have a strong and stable connection to Xbox Live.
If you’re finding the game difficult and struggling against these superbosses, the Xbox One version of Final Fantasy VII includes a feature that absolute breaks the game in half. I only found out about this feature after defeating Safer∙Sephiroth but it would have really helped to speed up my play time if I’d known about it beforehand. So, if you press in the left and right analogue sticks, two icons appear on the left-hand side of the screen: a fist and a “X3”. The fist grants you super-regenerating HP and MP and fills your “Limit” meter so fast that your Limit Breaks are constantly available; while can still be defeated with this activated, it’s massively unlikely and allows you to absolutely tank any enemies you encounter. This is made even more advantageous when you pair it with the “X3” booster which, as you might guess, speeds the game up to three times its usual speed. It was only by having both of these activated that I finally bested Emerald and Ruby WEAPON but, had I known they were an option, I would have used them the entire time as they’re absolutely game-breaking and would have really sped up all that Chocobo breeding!
Final Fantasy VII is, by no stretch of the imagination, a master piece. It is an exhaustive, massively engaging experience filled with action, humour, despair, and hope; while the plot can get side-tracked with delving into each character’s backstory, every event and occurrence in the game is specifically designed to flesh out the lore of game and the characters within it. It doesn’t take long before you’re hooked on not only the game’s distinct and charming visual style but also the deeply nuanced nature of these characters and the world-ending plot that get wrapped up in.
Despite a few of the more annoying trappings of the series at the time, the game is pretty much perfect from start to finish; it does a pretty decent job of easing you into its mechanics and eccentricities (unlike Final Fantasy VIII which, as much as I love it, loves to dump information, training, and exposition onto you within the first half an hour) to the point that, after a while, you don’t even realise that you’ve gotten the hang of the game’s core gameplay. The mini games and button-mashing sequences don’t last long and you’re not often penalised if you fail them, however if you play smart and save often (making liberal use of the save slots available), you can always load up an earlier save to better prepare yourself for whatever lies ahead.
If you’ve never played an RPG before though, and prefer much more action-orientated titles, than I obviously wouldn’t recommend Final Fantasy VII; when I first played the PlayStation 3 version, I had the official Brady Games guide with me at all times. This time around, I went on memory and instinct for the first chunk of the game and was surprised at how well I did without at guide and how accessible the game can be at times. Sure, there are often moments where you’ll have no idea where to go or what to do but that’s because you probably weren’t paying attention to the dialogue in the cutscenes. However, once I realised that I had missed out on Tifa’s Limit Break (and after Meteor was cast into the sky), I went back to a guide to make sure I didn’t miss anything that would improve my chances in the endgame; a guide is also pretty much mandatory to breed a Gold Chocobo, as well.
However, if you’re playing the Xbox One version of Final Fantasy VII, you can absolute cheese it with the analogue-stick boosters activated, making it more than accessible even for casual or first-time players. If you take the time to play at a more appropriate speed, you’ll be required to invest a lot of your time, effort, concentration, and commitment but it’s well worth it. Even characters I don’t really use, like Red XIII and Cat Sith, have layers and nuances to their characters and I found their input to be useful even when the game forces me to deviate from my part of Cloud, Barret, and Vincent. Once you allow yourself to become engrossed in this deep, detailed world with is rich lore of genocide and strife, you’ll find a story rife with themes of alienation, persecution, and betrayal; a story that teaches us to value the life we have now and work with the planet, rather than against it. At the same time, you’ll battle some kick-ass monsters and go toe-to-toe with a literal God…and that’s always cool
Phew, so…Final Fantasy VII, eh? What did you think of this much-lauded title? Where does it rank in your list of Final Fantasy games, or RPGs? Who was in your party when you played the game? Did you have a favourite section, Summon, or character? Did you know that you could cheese this version of the game of do you prefer to play at the original pace? Is the knowledge of Aerith’s news to you and are you now enraged because I spoiled a game over twenty years old? Have you been playing the recent remake and, if so, how does it hold up compared to the original? Did you enjoy the other Final Fantasy VII games and media released over the years? Whatever you think, whatever your thoughts, feel free to talk about them in the comments below.